'We practice what we preach.' I love it when brands say this. And I love it even more when they actually do it. This is otherwise known as LIVING YOUR BRAND - going above and beyond to demonstrate and abide by the principles your brand is based on.
It's not marketing but our everyday actions that make our brands real and credible in the minds of our customers. It's not enough to say who we are and what we stand for - we need to demonstrate it on every interaction with our audiences.
Even big brands fail to understand the importance of this. Recently Pret has come under fire because they have failed to live up to their 'all-natural" brand promise in the bread that they use. Rather than own up to this pretty major oversight, they evaded the issue and tried to continue marketing the same messages until a false advertising complaint was upheld. Not good. Especially for a brand that was built on provenance and authenticity.
So how can we truly live our brands?
1. Understand your brand
It starts with being clear what your brand is. If you haven't already, make sure you've defined your brand framework (here's ours in case you don't know what this is).
2. Work out what it means to your audience
Once you have your framework, work out what people will expect from you on the basis of what you've said. Look at your purpose - what do you need to do differently to live up to it? How are you delivering on your values, and what could immediately undermine this? Be honest, and if you aren't sure, ask your customers what they think.
3. Embed your brand in your day to day operation
This is absolutely key. Whether you are a big company or one person operation, you need to make sure that you embed the principles of your brand into the way you do things. It's not about marketing but making sure that your brand drives delivery. So once you understand what you need to do differently, review your processes to make sure they support your brand. Do your team and partners understand the importance of your brand and what it means to your customers? How can you make it easy for people to live up to your brand and deliver it consistently?
That's it. And if an area of your business fails to live up to your brand, don't do a Pret. Don't try and pass it off as a marketing message, not to be taken literally. Don't make excuses about the cost of change. Own it and immediately address it. Otherwise, your customers may just find someone who actually does what you claim to do.